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Penguins Wrap: Up-and-Down Start; NHL’s Shortsighted Decision



Jake Guentzel Rickard Rakell Sidney Crosby Evgeni Malkin

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2023-24 season, like almost every other, figures to be a mix of victories and defeats, of strong efforts and disappointing ones.

That’s pretty much inevitable over the course of an 82-game season.

Their first few games were evidence of that, as they squandered a two-goal lead in the opener — a game likely to be remembered as Chicago center Connor Bedard’s first in the NHL — before rebounding with a strong showing in Washington three days later.

And one night after that, they turned in two mostly lackluster periods against Calgary before staging a third-period outburst that got them another victory.

Here’s a look at the early days of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2023-24 season:


Jake Guentzel, recovering from offseason ankle surgery, is a full participant in the Penguins’ practice and is upgraded to “day-to-day.”

Here’s a player-by-player analysis of the Penguins’ roster in the wake of five players being placed on waivers.

Kris Letang drops to the No. 2 power play in the Penguins’ first practice following their seven-game exhibition schedule.

With a number of accomplished NHL players on waivers as teams firm up their regular-season rosters, would it behoove the Penguins to claim one?


President of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas addresses a variety of issues during one of his infrequent meetings with reporters.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will enter the 2023-24 season expecting some great things of themselves.

The Penguins claim physical defenseman John Ludwig on waivers from Florida, and learn that all five of the players they waived Sunday cleared.

Wondering why Alex Nylander won’t be on the Penguins’ Opening Night roster? Kyle Dubas offers a detailed explanation. (+)

Jake Guentzel again works out in his usual spots on the No. 1 line and top power play, fueling speculation that he’ll be in the Opening Night lineup.


The Penguins start the new season with an old problem: The inability to hold a lead. They take a 2-0 lead over Chicago in the opener, then give up four unanswered goals in what becomes a 4-2 loss at PPG Paints Arena.

While the Penguins were painfully aware of the issues that surfaced in their defeat by the Blackhawks, they pointed out that the NHL’s regular season is just beginning.

Fourth-line forward Noel Acciari says that he adjusts his game when he plays center, which is his current niche with the Penguins. (+)

Even before they learned out how the opener would play out, the Pittsburgh Penguins had unpleasant memories of Chicago’s previous visit to PPG Paints Arena.


Have the Pittsburgh Penguins really been able to put their late-season implosion from last spring behind them?

Grading individual and unit performances during the Penguins’ 4-2 loss to Chicago in the opener. (+)

Defenseman Ryan Graves suggests the Penguins didn’t do anything against the Blackhawks that can’t be corrected.


There were some good things — but also several bad ones — that emerged during the Penguins’ loss to Chicago. (+)

The Penguins’ penalty-killers will face a major challenge Friday, when they will face Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, the NHL’s all-time leader in power-play goals.


Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby power the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-0 victory in Washington.

There were a lot of good grades in the Penguins’ report card after they defeated the Capitals. (+)

Kris Letang is adapting and adjusting his game after the arrival of Erik Karlsson.


The Penguins have the oldest team in the NHL, but certainly didn’t look it during the final 20 minutes in a 5-2 victory over Calgary.

Although their performance against the Flames was less than perfect, most of the Penguins again earned solid grades for their work.

The NHL is allowing ESPN to shortchange a lot of fans — and stunt the growth of the game — by restricting the audience that can see some games featuring high-profile players and teams.